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When Can I Use the Citi Prestige $250 Air Travel Credit?

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TPG reader Abhinav sent me a message on Facebook to ask about a credit card benefit:

“Is the Citi Prestige airline credit available immediately after I get the card, or do I have to wait an entire calendar year before I use it? Also, does it ever expire?”

Some travel rewards cards offer benefits that don’t kick in until the end of your first year as a cardholder. Those benefits (like free hotel nights or bonus points) may justify the annual fee, but you don’t get full value from the card initially since you can’t use them right away. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the Citi Prestige Card.

The Citi Prestige annual $250 Air Travel Credit is the best benefit of its kind. Unlike the airline fee credit on the Platinum Card from American Express (which is only designed to cover incidentals like checked bag fees or in-flight purchases), the Prestige benefit can be used to cover airfare itself. You also don’t have to designate a specific carrier to redeem your benefit, which means you can use it as soon as you receive your card. So long as your account is open and in good standing, you should receive a credit for any qualifying purchases.

The air travel credit is offered annually, but it’s based on your December billing statement, so it doesn’t align perfectly with the calendar year. Qualifying charges made after that will count toward the following year’s credit, and any unused portion of the credit will disappear at that point. To maximize the benefit, make sure you use up the full $250 before your December statement closes.

If you have credit left over but don’t have any immediate travel plans, gift card purchases should be eligible so long as they’re made directly from the airline and not from a third party.

Make sure
Make sure to use the full $250 Citi Prestige air travel credit before your December statement closes. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Since the air travel credit renews each year, you can actually use it twice during your first year as a cardmember — once in the year your account is opened, and again the following year. That means you can effectively get $500 of credit in the first 12 months. I think this card is well worth the annual fee thanks to other valuable features like the 4th Night Free hotel benefit. However, if you’re not sure, you can at least try it out for a year and get your money’s worth in airfare.

For more on Citi Prestige and other cards with airline credits, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Citi Prestige® Card

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  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year, and receive a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre √®
  • 4th night hotel benefit for any hotel stay at hotels booked through the Citi Prestige® Concierge.
  • Earn 40,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Points are redeemable for a $532 flight on any airline or $400 in gift cards.
  • Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 15.49%* (Variable) $450 0% Excellent Credit